Monday, September 27, 2010

Hanging Out With Dalia

So, one of my new partners in crime is Dalia.
She's from Chicago.
When I hang out with her, I know we're going to meet some new people.
She and I both like to chat people up if they approach us.
The Arab guys are very flirty. I believe they not only think we're cute, but
they always want us to help them with their English too.

On this particular evening we rode a bus to Dalia's school..and it's FAR, VERY FAR.
It was a 2 hour bus ride from downtown Abu Dhabi!
That's the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa on my shirt.

We stopped at this market.

Tales From Kindergarten

A side view of my school.

My co-teacher, Fatima and I are are going over the alphabet with the students. She is teaching the Arabic alphabet, I teach the English (obviously).
Here is a picture of the board. You will see the letter 'b' alongside its Arabic equivalent 'baa.'
It's great to listen like a kindergartener and learn the Arabic alphabet right along with them.
Fatima's English isn't great and neither is my Arabic. So basically it goes like this.. Fatima introduces the 'baa' and several things that start with a 'baa' then the students write the 'baa'..when she's done she looks at me and says, "teacher go," My cue to do the same in English.

This month's unit is ALL ABOUT ME. We are learning the names of body parts in English and Arabic.
We made these..This is a potato person made with kebab skewers, caramel feet and a date head.

Does your vice principal ever ask her driver to take you home.. ours does! When she saw us waiting on a cab the woman (can't remember her name) insisted we ride with her. We dropped her off at her mega mansion and the driver continued on to our temporary digs, the Fairmont Hotel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A look at my classroom

This is the classroom I share with my co-teacher, Fatima.
It looked like this when I showed up..I added nothing but a few books in English.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ana Beheb (I like) Lebanese Food

Something healthy in a mall food court!

This is Tabbouleh salad (I think) Under the pita bread is some chicken shwarma and the fried things on the right have lamb inside.

Of course I wear my Buckeye Jeans here! first Lebanese friend
I went out to a club again..
This time, Etoise at the Emirates Palace.
I went with Rudy from South Africa, Amanda from St. Louis and a couple of guys I think are from Syria. But who knows..they have a car.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Madrasti (My School) First Day Images

This is my school, Al Radhwan Kindergarten.
It is in Khalifa City, an upscale suburb northeast of Abu Dhabi.
I will be team teaching with a local teacher.


Covered Playground

Fellow English Speaking Teachers


Great Mural

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Be Clubbin'

So last night I went to a club called EIGHT in the Shangri-La hotel in Abu Dhabi. Before I got there I went by to check it out since it's next door to my hotel, the Fairmont and the lady at the door said to come back later you have to make a reservation- so I did, for 5.

Jill from Atlanta was coming by and I figured 5 would be enough. WRONG. The group swelled to about 12.. I got in with 4 others, the rest were left at the door.

Me and Rahana from Chicago

5 Things I Learned About Clubbin' in Abu Dhabi

1. The music is the same as the U.S. (they even played teach me how to Dougie!)

2. When a guy bumps into you he apologizes profusely (so sweet)

3. People can still smoke in clubs..alot.

4. People wear the same thing as back home. I was shocked to see belly tops, short shorts and tight hoochie dresses. I thought this was haram (forbidden)

6. They love getting bottle service..the liquor comes to the table complete with a sparkling firecracker attatched.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dinner at Frankie's

Here's me Sharon and Susan at Frankies, the Italian restaurant in the hotel.
It's too expensive for my taste, so I just had a bottle of mineral water which cost 18 dirhams..or like $6 bucks.

BTW.. I'm wearing one of the dresses Tamer's sister gave me (see earlier post)

WTF Moment @ The Mall + Middle East Fashion

You call this a toilet!?

So I was at the Madinet Zayed mall the other day when I had to use the restroom. The toilet seen above is common here. I'll let you imagine how its used.

On another note.. One of the things people ask about the most regarding Abu Dhabi, is what people wear. Here's my breakdown. In the malls and restaurants non-Muslims wear anything as long as its not too revealing (no shorts, no tank tops).
Muslim women wear Abayas, the floor-length cloak I'm wearing below.

On my head I wear a sheila to cover my head. Some women will wear various versions of burkas on their face, but this is uncommon and considered "old school."

Men traditionally dress in a long, light colored tunic called a khandura or the slang term is "dishdash." On their head is a ghutra. This is commonly seen in plain white or red and white check. These days the color of the ghutra is a man's personal fashion choice, though, back in the day it denoted what area you were from.
Here I am with author, Ali Alsaloom in his camel-colored dishdash and matching ghutra.

This dress is part of the culture here and I think the people look great in it. I hope that through education people will see that a person wearing an abaya or a khandura is not an opressed woman or a terrorist, but are people like you and me who are embarrassed by the stereotypes caused by mis-information and the acts of extremists.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Toured Sheikh Zayed Mosque Today

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the 3rd largest mosque in the world. It is named after the late founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed.
It has 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns and marble and swarovski crystals everywhere.

Me in the courtyard

With fellow teachers, Susan and Sharon

With Mohammed, a tour guide

One of many intricate domes

Question & Answer session

A look from outside

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Night of My Dreams

Before coming here I had often imagined that I would be taken in by a lovely Arab woman who would fit me for one of her old Abayas and I remember in the dream that the abaya was too long for me and I had to get it hemmed.
This happened tonight..
So, it all started at the mall.

I went there to just look around and explore. Saw some of the most beautiful dresses I've ever seen and also bought Patricia a pillow. She had been complaining the hotel pillows are too soft.

Then.. The next thing you know, I'm at Tamer's house meeting his sister, At one point, Tamer gave me some hair products.. one he called Egyptian Snake Oil. I also was given a Buddah. Tamer asked me to make a wish and shake it. Then he gave it to me.

Then we went to Tamer's sister's house (a georgeous place) where she gave me some old clothes, purses, shoes and jewelery of hers. But not before looking at my less than svelte figure and joking "ha ha, I've had 5 kids, what's this (pats my belly)."
Making reference to people's weight is not unacceptable here.

And she and the housekeeper made us a light dinner.

Tamer's sister's living room

New Friends Take Me Out For Shisha

So yesterday I met Mansour. He's a fellow teacher and a native of Witchita, Kansas. He's half black, half Iranian. He has a friend from college, a Palestinian named, Tamer who has a car.

So Tamer, Mansour and I headed to a Shisha cafe downtown. The young boy in the pic is Tamer's nephew, Hamud.
If you're not familiar with Shisha (also called Hookah) it's flavored tobacco smoked in elaborate pipes.

Anyway, so we went to this cool hidden cafe in downtown Abu Dhabi. I smoked the flavor called double apple, all the while working on my Arabic with Tamer and some of the ladies there. Two great words I learned; Maa Baariff (I don't know) and wasta (connections) as in, "I need some wasta in order to get a good job."
We left the cafe around 4 am and then headed to Tamer's house. Tamer, as customary in Arabic culture offered me some coffee. It tasted like ashtray, but it is important to try a little so as not to offend.

Around 5-something, I was trying to be a good guest and clean up the coffee cups and I took them to the kitchen. So funny when Tamer said.. "don't bother, the maid will do it in the morning." LOL.. yes I'm in a different world here. :)

Then we went back to the hotel and I went to the gym promptly at 6am. I'm working on my fitness here, for real. You won't see me at places like the one below.

Ilaa-al-liqaa(Until Next Time)


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Welcome To Abu Dhabi -- I'm here!

The journey began on September 4, 2010.
After a tearful goodbye to my boyfriend, Troy, as well as my mom, dad and sister, I went to bed and woke up the next day to head to Abu Dhabi.

My parents took me from Cincinnati to the airport in Columbus where I flew to JFK and then took a 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi. Etihad Airlines was wonderful. The individual TVs at each seat made it enjoyable. According to their promos, there was over 600 hours of programming to choose from. Movies, TV shows, albums. Believe me, there was something to entertain everyone. I watched the movie DATE NIGHT and began MY FAMILY WEDDING (fell asleep). We received two meals.
When I arrived in Abu Dhabi, the customs/visa stuff was smooth. We got a retina scan for identification too. Then we waited for our luggage. Thank God every piece arrived for me. I didn't hear that anyone DIDN'T get all their luggage. Al-Hamdu-lilah! (By the grace of God)
Then we were herded onto a bus that took us to the Fairmont Hotel. This place is 5-star for sure. I'm so grateful. Check the pics below. I mean, that bathroom is like a spa!

I have begun to hang out with a core group at this time. The four of us are going to breakfast together. I feel like they look out for me. Very Sex and the City 2. At 33, I'm the youngest in the group.

None of us have our placements yet. Will know in 3 days. I am working on my Arabic and speaking to anyone who is patient enough with me to help.
I went to Marina Mall and the Carrefour (French version of Wal-Mart)and it was enjoyable. It would be more enjoyable if I had more filoos (money) to spend.
There were beautiful clothes, plenty of school items and anything you would want to eat.

I have also been going to the gym every morning at 6 AM. One thing that I want to accomplish while I am here is to lose weight. I think this will be entirely possible because my eating habits will be dramatically different here.
What's great about this journey is that myself and everyone is starting a fresh, new life and I think that's why we're here.
It's not just about the filoos (money) of course that's great and all..but I believe that for many of us, we are trying to escape our old life and begin anew. No matter where we're from, the US, UK, Australia..etc.. I think many of us are from THE VALLEY. Whether it's a career valley, love life valley or the valley of dependence the picture I get from talking to people is that they all feel like this journey will help them leave their old life behind. Out of the valley and up to the mountain of peace and prosperity.